Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What do stay-at-home mom's do all day, anyway?

Hello again! I enjoy reading advice columns in the paper. My favorite's include Dear Abby, Carolyn Hax, Dear Margo and Miss Manners. A while back, Carolyn Hax printed a letter and response in her column "Tell me about it" that caught my eye. I loved her response to the question "What do stay-at-home moms do all day?" I have heard this question before and it can be hard to answer specifically, we just know we are busy. I loved this article so much, I keep it on my refrigerator. So, to those of you who have kids- here is something you will appreciate. To those of you who don't yet, here is a little insight. I have copied this word for word from her column. I don't have the exact date- it was several months ago at least.

Dear Carolyn: Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group... OK. I've done internet searches; I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please, no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners. I do all those things, too, and I don't do them every day. What is a typical day, and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus work a few late work events); I manage to get it all done. I think the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy- not a bad thing at all. But if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a contest ("my life is so much harder than yours")? I have kids with and without kids, and all of us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions. -Tacoma Washington.

Anyone ready to choke this person yet? I love Carolyn's response:

Dear Tacoma: Relax and enjoy? You're funny. Or you're lying about having friends with kids. Internet searches? I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous. Because it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answer their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keep them from un-shelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head. It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15. It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier. It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short therm relief at everyone's long term expense. It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything- language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity, empathy. Everything. It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself.

Wow- isn't that awesome? She describes it perfectly. Yes, it is a joy, but so much more work than you can know until you have been there. It is the constant attention, constant meeting others needs and taking 3 times as long to do anything and being prepared for any eventuality. I just had to share this. At the same time though, my own "non-kid" friends are so important to me. They are an anchor at times and an escape when I need it. My sister Julie, and my best friend, Jackie come first to mind. They are always there when I need and are so fun to be around. They patiently listen to my stories of chaos and I just love them and love to hear about their lives too. I do look forward to the day they join the ranks of motherhood, because they will be so incredible as mothers- but I love them just how they are and don't know what I would ever do without them!


Valarie said...

OHhhhh, that was perfect!

Kelly said...

That was such a great response to a very typical question- I get it from my non-mom friends or those with kids who work,even, if you can believe that! I wouldn't trade this job for anything else, at least not right now!!

Katie said...

Yeah, I loved this. Well said. Yet I bet the woman who asked still doesn't get it. It can not be understood until experienced.

Suzanne said...

Loved it. She did forget to mention "church callings"! There's another several hours a week:) I sometimes ask myself the same question especially when it's 5:00 and I quickly jump in the shower before my honey comes home! What do I do with my time?

Autumn said...

This is great, Amanda! Love it.